football

Numbers game: Projecting the top 25 classes

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Dallas JacksonClick Rivals.com Team Recruiting RankingsHere to view this Link. is the National Columnist for Rivals.com. Email him your comments or story ideas to DallasJ@Yahoo-Inc.comClick Rivals.com Team Recruiting RankingsHere to view this Link. and follow him on TwitterClick Rivals.com Team Recruiting RankingsHere to view this Link..
Recruiting is a numbers game.
College coaches must deal with roster and scholarship limitations to determine
which players and at what positions they target.
Analysts rank those prospects and assign a national value inside the Rivals250 presented by Under Armour.
Last year Rivals.com changed its formula as to how team rankings would be more
objectively determined (view the new formula here) and monthly -- from July until January -- we will take a look at the
current Top 25 classes are and where they project to finish.
With 140 members of the Rivals250 being committed, there are still plenty of
points to be earned by programs from coast to coast, and the top 25 is expected
to be quite fluid.
The results of the new rankings formula being applied to past classes will not
been made public, but those numbers will be used for purposes of this analysis.
Number of remaining spots, offers being extended, positional needs and
historical references were also factored in to determining the results.
RIVALS.COM'S
TOP 25 RECRUITING CLASSES
No. 1 - TENNESSEE - 21 commits, 2,140 points, 3.38 average
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Mike Farrell says: "This has been just an amazing job by Butch Jones
and his staff to sell Tennessee as a viable SEC-contender. The hope for Vol fans
would be that they close out strong and finish inside the Top 10. With a 3.4
average ranking I think that it is possible, too."
What the numbers say: Extrapolating the data points for this
class, Tennessee has nowhere to go but down as the season moves on. If no team
from outside of the current configuration of the Top 25 makes a major move, the
Vols should be able to finish in the No. 10 spot. The numbers say that if the
program does not add any more valuable commits and closes with just the 2,095
points that is currently has that would figure for a No. 14 finish. The math
also indicates that at least eight teams from outside the Top 25 will make a run
as the recruiting period closes. Therefore, it would not be a shock to see Tennessee as high as No. 8 but as low as
No. 14, even if it adds another four-star or two.
No. 2 - TEXAS - 21 commits, 1,841 points, 3.19 average
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Mike Farrell says: "This is not a bad start for Texas, but we have seen
them start higher -- and faster -- than this class is right now. I think they
are really feeling the impact of an improved Texas A&M in that they aren't just
automatically getting the best kids in the state. The fans are probably hoping
for a Top 15 class, but Top 20 is probably more realistic."
What the numbers say: It doesn't take advanced math to know
that a team with a 3.19 ranking per recruit is going to fall as the season goes
on. The average historical placement for a team with a 3.19 average is No. 19
and so that is toward the bottom of Farrell's projection. In this current top
25, Texas could finish No. 14 but not higher unless the program lands a major
pledge late in the class, which it does not historically do. The Longhorns' current point
total would be good for a No. 22 finish.
NO. 3 - KENTUCKY - 19 commits, 1,781 points, 3.21 average
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Mike Farrell says: "This has been an incredible job by Mark Stoops to
get Kentucky to this point. This is a program that rarely is this active, this
early in the process. It is never in the top five and has even climbed to the
top spot for awhile. Even with a pretty full boat already, Kentucky is in on a
lot of kids and they could actually improve on the ranking-per-recruit. A top 10
finish is probably not going to happen, but Top 15 is possible and Top 20 should
be a lock."
What the numbers say: The headline of the year would be if
Kentucky is able to finish ahead of Texas in the team rankings, and right now, the
team projects to do just that. The current 3.21 ranking-per-recruit is not a
great number as it would be right for a No. 19 finish, but the projections for
what Kentucky can gain would place it one spot ahead of the Longhorns inside of
the current top 25 at No. 13. When projecting out the players that Kentucky is
still recruiting, as well as the remaining spots within the class, it safely puts
this class to project at No. 19, or better.
NO. 4 - MIAMI (Fla.) - 21 commits, 1,775 points, 3.2 average
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Mike Farrell says: "Coming out this aggressively is impressive to see
from Al Golden. I really think he is one of the best recruiters in the business
and he is going after quality players and landing a lot of kids. There are so
many talented players still on the board that this class can climb and close as
the top spot in Florida. After everything that the program has dealt with
publicly, making that kind of statement would be huge."
What the numbers say: Miami is not going to take home the title
for Florida recruiting; it is more likely to fall some 500 points behind
Florida, and narrowly be edged by Florida State when all is said and done.
Despite having a better ranking per recruit than Kentucky, it is very likely that
Miami will be another program that is surpassed by the Wildcats. The hot start
is good for Miami, but based on the data from the adjusted rankings, this may be
the fifth-best for the program in the last six years. With plenty of targets
still available there is ability to stay inside the top with a bottoming out at
No. 23.
NO. 5 - NOTRE DAME - 15 commits, 1,755 points, 3.67 average
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Mike Farrell says: "This is the best quality class in the country right
now and they have really taken advantage of the momentum from the BCS title game
appearance. With the academics that have to be factored in with Notre Dame, I
don't think they will be able to get in a big enough class to really close in
and claim that top spot. However, there is no doubt that they should contend for a top-five spot."
What the numbers say: This class could fall a few hundred
points below what happened last year, but it could still be good enough for a
repeat of the No. 3 class. The average-per-recruit rankings could have the class
falling between No. 2 and No. 7 as those numbers fluctuate more than point
totals because of how the bonus scale is arranged. There are teams behind Notre
Dame with more room to add players, but with two five-star players already in the class, there is a firm base. The
top end is likely to be a No. 3 ranking with a bottom of No. 6.
No. 6 - Florida State - 18 commits, 1,752 points, 3.28 average
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Mike Farrell says: "This is a good but not great start for Florida
State. The star level is a little low and that means it is probably going to
drop down a little. I think that Florida State could be poised for a good season
on the field and that may give the Seminoles a big enough boost to stay inside the
Top 10 when all is said and done."
What the numbers say: This will be the No. 2 class in the state
of Florida as well as in the ACC with Clemson eventually overtaking the
Seminoles. With more room and a better star average, it is likely that Florida
State is able to finish ahead of upstart Kentucky. However, it will be by a narrow
margin and it could come down to a single four-star commitment. The class may be
able to reach its point total from last year and hold onto a last rung of the
top 10, but it is far more likely that it settles between No. 13 and No. 16 and
flips back and forth with Tennessee down the stretch.
NO. 7 - Alabama - 15 commits, 1,740 points, 3.53 average
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Mike Farrell says: "The real surprise is that there isn't a five-star
on the board yet for Alabama, but the class still has one of the highest per-recruit-average and that bodes well for a strong finish. You have to figure that
Marlon Humphrey is a lock if not a silent commit, and Alabama is still very much
in the running for
Leonard Fournette,
Cameron Robinson and
Da'Shawn Hand. I don't
know if they will get any of those three, but I just don't bet against Alabama if
they have a hook into someone four of five recruiting national titles and three
BCS titles speaks for itself."
What the numbers say: This is the year Alabama loses its
recruiting title belt, barely. The numbers say that even seven-plus months until
National Signing Day, there are only a handful of teams that are in
contention to win the recruiting title and that Alabama is a major player in
that. Finishing at No. 1 wouldn't be a shock, but it doesn't seem like it will
happen without the addition of one of the three five-stars that it is not
already projected to land. Alabama has set the bar very high with recruiting,
averaging 2,949 points in the last five classes. However, this year Alabama projects to
finish closer to 2,700, which will be good for between No. 2 and No. 4.
NO. 8 - Texas A&M - 14 commits, 1,659 points, 3.5 average
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Mike Farrell says: "This is the hot team in Texas and it is not close
right now. Everything is working for Texas A&M and just because it is getting
breaks, that doesn't take away from the fact that it is executing on them. Moving
to the SEC, having Johnny Football,
Kevin Sumlin's offense -- it goes on. I fully
expect a top 10 finish and how high this class gets ranked will be determined by
how many they can take. If this is a full class, it could finish in the top five."
What the numbers say: With a win over Alabama on the field and
a full class of signees, that could be enough to propel Texas A&M into the top spot
when all is said and done. Those are two factors that have to go in favor of the
Aggies to knock the Crimson Tide off of its perch. Only twice in the last five
classes has a team with a 3.5 ranking-per-recruit finished inside the top five. Therefore,
Texas A&M will have to land a few more four-stars to round out its class and boost
that to a more historically accurate 3.6 to 3.8 star-per-recruit, as well as add
the points it will need. The floor for a team with these early data points
indicates that the Aggies should finish with nothing lower than a No. 9 class
but could easily find itself in the top three.
No. 9 - GEORGIA - 15 commits, 1,645 points, 3.4 average
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Mike Farrell says: "This is an underrated group of coaches and
recruiters and I am not sure why. Every signing day it seems like Georgia is
inside or darn close to the Top 10, yet the fans seem to be upset with the staff
for not doing more. I think this is probably a strong pace to finish right in
that area again. Sony Michel is the star of the class but the rest of the group
is very solid."
What the numbers say: Farrell nails it with his perspective as
the adjusted recruiting class totals has Georgia ranked No. 7 overall
historically -- and that is the pace the program is on again. The safe floor
placement for Georgia would be at No. 12, and when the final pen hits the paper, this
class has an upside of No. 8. Last season it concluded with 2,226 points and
finished No. 12. The consistency factor with the Bulldogs leads the projection
to have Georgia finish with 2,193 points. Adding an extra four-star as the last
signee, as opposed to a three-star to count toward the point total, will ensure
that Georgia gets to the 2,226 it had last year, if not surpass that total.
NO. 10 - Clemson - 14 commits, 1,641 points, 3.5 average
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Mike Farrell says: "This is a very good class right now with a strong
star average that is boosted by five-star quarterback Deshaun Watson. Clemson
has been pretty good at closing as well, so I figure the same thing will hold
true and there will be a battle with Florida State for the top class in the ACC.
If I had to guess, I would take Florida State to finish atop the conference,
but it would be close."
What the numbers say: The current pace would keep Clemson
inside the top 10 and possibly move the class up to No. 9, but with a little work, this class could go to No. 7. The Tigers have the No. 14 overall program ranking with
the adjusted figures and only its class of 2009 is holding it back from pushing
closer to the top 10. The numbers indicate that Clemson should finish the season
comfortably in the lead of the ACC with about 250 points to spare for
separation.    
No. 11 - MICHIGAN - 14 commits, 1,621 points, 3.5 average
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Mike Farrell says: "I think Michigan jumped off to a better start last
year, but I think I am more impressed this year. The quality of player is about
the same, so what I mean by more impressed is that Michigan is more diversified
and it is also expanding its footprint. It is getting into some new areas and
getting kids. Having a player like Jabrill Peppers on board is huge because of
what he brings to the table. I think they have a really good shot at getting
both of the top players in the country with Da'Shawn Hand showing serious
interest."
What the numbers say: If Michigan can land Hand and continue to
round out a solid class around him then it would have the recruit average as
well as the bonus points to push to No. 1. As it stands right now, the projections show
that the Wolverines will be in for a fight with Ohio State for the top slot in
the Big Ten conference. The data indicates that the team should come close to
surpassing its total points from last season when it finished No. 5 with 2,661.
It doesn't need much more than that to claim a national title in recruiting this
year. Set the floor at No. 5 with a ceiling of knocking Alabama off the
mountain.
No. 12 - OLE MISS - 18 commits, 1,567 points, 3.11 average
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Mike Farrell says: "Following up what Ole Miss did last year was going
to be near impossible, so this is actually a good start and shows that
Hugh Freeze and the staff can keep recruiting. I think that what happened last year
with how Ole Miss closed is going to be extremely difficult to repeat, and that
is more than just Robert Nkemdiche, because they got a haul in January and
February and are almost full right now. I think they will go back into the 20s."
What the numbers say: Baring something similar to the close of
last year, it is far more likely that Ole Miss will slide back toward its more
historically accurate point totals of near 2,000 - down about 500 from last year
- and not inside the top 20. With that point today and with its current ranking-per-recruit, Ole Miss will be back into a battle for the last few spots inside of
the top 25 or being just outside.
NO. 13 - OHIO STATE - 14 commits, 1,526 points, 3.36 average
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Mike Farrell says: "There are a lot of things to like about Ohio State
being this high right now. This is a pretty good recruit average, there is a lot
of room to add players, the Buckeyes are in on a lot of players, and Urban Meyer
is one of the best recruiters in the business. I think there will be a real
battle for the top of the Big Ten conference, but Ohio State is a lock for
top 10 finish."
What the numbers say: The history of Ohio State recruiting,
combined with Urban Meyer's recruiting history, and factoring the program is
expected to be undefeated through much of the year, puts Ohio State as a mathematical challenger for a top-three finish.
Most likely, the Buckeyes will finish between No. 4 and No. 8, but it could boost
that top end quite easily.
NO. 14 - LSU - 14 commits, 1,519 points, 3.54 average
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Mike Farrell says: "This is the program that I think is in the best
position to knock off Alabama and take that No. 1 spot when all is said and
done. The class is already very strong and has a great average for the recruits,
but the state is just loaded and often times those kids don't get outside the
boarders. With Leonard Fournette, Cam Robinson, Malachi Dupre, and so many more
players that LSU may not let go, this could be an impressive, impressive close."
What the numbers say: It is pretty much a lock that LSU will
finish inside the Top 10. With the history of the program with
players in state, as well as the targets that the Tigers have, the numbers show
that this could be a near-3,000 point class with a near-3.8 recruit ranking. The
way the numbers break down this year, LSU doesn't need to land all three
players to get close to 2,850 points and be in the discussion for No. 1. Set the
floor at No. 6 and the ceiling at the top spot.
NO. 15 - LOUISVILLE - 20 commits, 1,515 points, 2.95 average
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Mike Farrell says: "This isn't a bad class but it is going to slide.
The average-per-recruit just indicates it is not a top 25 class unless there is
some work done late. I think what is really hurting Louisville is that it is
being overshadowed by Kentucky, and in football, it has been some time since the
two were on equal footing, let alone Kentucky having the perception advantage.
What is worrisome is that Louisville didn't really get the bump from the Sugar
Bowl win nor from moving to the ACC - I figured getting out of the Big East
would be like escaping a death sentence for recruiting."
What the numbers say: Louisville may be able to battle and hold
onto a top 25 finish but it will have plenty of competition. The Cardinals
figure to finish higher than last year in overall recruiting and the pace looks
to be headed for a near-1,600 point class, but that may only be enough for a No.
30 class. If there are plans on moving into the top 25, Louisville will need to add more
four-star players because its current ranking indicates that the range is No. 33
to No. 36.
No. 16 - North Carolina - 18 commits, 1,407 points, 2.94 average
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Mike Farrell says: "This is a really solid class for North Carolina but
I don't think it has staying power. Relatively speaking, it is OK that North
Carolina doesn't finish inside the top 25 because the staff is doing some really
good work in Atlanta, as well as up into the mid-Atlantic. Most importantly - and
this isn't really quantifiable with numbers - they are meeting the needs for
Larry Fedora and what he wants to do."
What the numbers say: This is an early season ranking based on
raw numbers but does not have the staying power that even Louisville is clinging
to. The class is well ahead of the pace from last season and should finish well
ahead of the 1,460 point total that it had. However, baring something drastic, this
class will quickly slide. There isn't a safe floor or ceiling because of the
range that the team is slipping into. The variance could leave North Carolina as
high as No. 35 but as low as No. 46.
NO. 17 - N.C. State - 22 commits, 1,341 points, 2.77 average
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Mike Farrell says: "This is a really impressive start for Dave Doeren
and his staff. As a group they have really gone hard into Georgia. I don't know
if this can be a top 25 class, most likely it won't be, but they are doing good
work and this is a strong effort to be there right now."
What the numbers say: Without landing five-star
Kentavius Street, this is going to be closer to a mid-30 to mid-40 type class. If there is
a way to keep Street within the state, then there is a chance that it can be
boosted into the low-30, but there is hardly any way to forecast this as a top 25
group. The current trend of the class would have it ranked No. 48. With the
boost from getting Street, this class could move all the way up to No. 29. With that
variance, there is no safe projection other than to eliminate a top 25 finish.
NO. 18 - RUTGERS - 20 commits, 1,340 points, 2.8 average
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Mike Farrell says: "This is another Big East team that hasn't seen the
bump from escaping the executioner. I think it is safe to say that the
recruiting has taken a step back since Greg Schiano left and the class ranking
is probably going to bear that out as well. Right now I am really impressed with
what they are doing at certain spots, but otherwise there is work still to be
done."
What the numbers say: There is potential for this to be the
lowest totaled class in the last five classes for Rutgers - only bettering the
class of 2008. There are only a few spots left to fill, few offers out, and
fewer realistic targets that could give a point boost to the class. Without a
player like Kentavius Street within the state that is considering the program,
there is no real chance for a top 25 finish with all of the peripherals working
against Rutgers. If nothing changes, this class is slotted for No. 50, but within
that cluster of programs, it is only a matter of 100 points to get up to No. 42.
No. 19 - Baylor - 20 commits, 1,324 points, 2.7 average
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Mike Farrell says: "This is a really good class for Baylor with three,
four-star players already on board. The coaches are able to really sell the
RGIII hype, as well as the other players that have been sent into the NFL
recently and they are making some noise with players that historically would not
have considered Baylor. This is another group that doesn't have the per-recruit-average to stay within the Top 25 and it doesn't have much more room to add
either."
What the numbers say: Of the current top 25, it is trending that
Baylor will finish next to last of this group and fall into the 50's. What is
worrisome is that outside of the top end players in the class, the rest of the
bottom actually is pulling this class down to potentially being the lowest of
the last three years. Historically, Baylor has been a team that added players
late and could have been viewed as a second-choice for some four-stars giving
the class a late boost. This year it doesn't seem to have those same targets on
the board for late in the year. A floor here is No. 61, but with the close knit
group in that range, No. 45 is not improbable.
NO. 20 - BOSTON COLLEGE - 21 commits, 1,247 points, 2.67 average
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Mike Farrell says: "There is no doubt that this is the first team to
drop from the top 25 but I don't think you will hear many B.C. fans complaining
about that. What Steve Addazio has done here has been nothing short of a
miracle. The program was near death and he has revived it and brought a lot of
energy to a fan base that was stagnant at best. For a team coming off a 2-10
season to ever be in the top 25 in July is a testament."
What the numbers say: Boston College will battle to stay within
the top 50 when the rankings period is over. BC's current 2.67 ranking-per-recruit would not factor into a top 50 finish and its current point total has it
slotted to finish at No. 56. This should easily be the best collection of
players brought into the program since 2008 as it already has nearly 400 points
more than last season. Boston College is most likely to finish last in
recruiting out of the current group, which is not surprising mathematically as it
has been the worst of the group anyway.
NO. 21 - Florida - 11 commits, 1,213 points, 3.45 average
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Mike Farrell says: "There is great quality in this class already and
there is a lot of room to add players. Florida is in good shape to add a full
class and it is a candidate for the top spot among the Big Three in Florida. I
think the Gators are in a great place to close strong and would suspect a top 10
finish is likely in the making."
What the numbers say: Florida is closer to trending toward its
class of 2011 finish that its back-to-back top five rankings of the last two
seasons. Mathematically it is looking very good for the program to claim the
recruiting title within its state and push past Georgia in the SEC rankings.
There is a lot of meat on the bone and a lot of offers out to highly ranked
players which bodes well. The floor for the Gators can be set near No. 11 with a
ceiling of No. 5, but it is safer to assume No. 8 will be a landing point.
No. 22 - Auburn - 12 commits, 1,206 points, 3.25 average
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Mike Farrell says: "This is a good class considering it is a completely
new staff. I think there will be a lot of battles coming up and I don't know how
many Auburn will win. One thing I do know is that this will be a top 15 class
because it always is - and I am done betting against Auburn finishing in the top
10 because every time I start to count that program out of recruiting battles it
wins them."
What the numbers say: Unlike Farrell, the numbers are not going
to use better judgment and will put Auburn at the No. 12 class. There are plenty
of chances for this to be moved up and historically that has proven to be the
case with Auburn as it is a strong closer. A top 10 finish is not out of the
question, but it is not as mathematically sound of a projection as many other
teams. The current 3.25 ranking-per-recruit suggests that Auburn is more likely
to finish at No. 16 so that is the safety range, between No. 10 and No. 16.
NO. 23 - Penn State - 13 commits, 1,176 points, 3.23 average
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Mike Farrell says: "I think
Bill O'Brien is doing the best job of
recruiting of any coach in the nation, bar none. After what happened a year ago
and dealing with what he has to deal with, there is no way I would have predicted
a top 25 class at any time. Now they won't have the numbers to stay there, but
this is still a great story. I think Penn State fans should just start sorting
the rankings by per-recruit stats because they are getting some really talented
kids."
What the numbers say: Penn State may already have filled its
class and its point total will only fluctuate based on updated Rivals250
movement. There is a chance that the program takes two more players and gets to
15, but it will not be more than that. If the numbers stay the way they are, that
would make this a class that settles into the mid-50's. However, as Farrell said, the
per-recruit figures could have it as high as No. 16 if the Nittany Lions were
able to fill out this roster.
NO. 24 - Vanderbilt - 14 commits, 1,139 points, 3.14 average
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Mike Farrell says: "This group just continues to impress me. I know and
recognize that James Franklin has changed the culture at Vanderbilt and with
Vanderbilt recruiting but consistently seeing this logo in the top 25 list feels
foreign. The fact of the matter is, Vanderbilt is for real and they have staying
power. I don't know if a top 25 class will happen, but they won't go away
quietly."
What the numbers say: It is hard to accurately use numbers on
this one because of the variance based on the results under Franklin versus the
history. Getting everything into acceptable ranges, it appears that Vanderbilt
will be battling for one of the last spots in the top 25 until the bitter end.
Vanderbilt's rankings-per-recruit and projected point totals look like the high mark
would be No. 22 with the low mark settling in at No. 31. With a solid season and
a strong close, the mark is No. 26, but it is dependent on how West Coast programs
close as many Pac-12 programs are strong finishers and could bump Vanderbilt
late.
No. 25 - Michigan State - 13 commits, 1,025 points, 3.08 average
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Mike Farrell says: "I think this should be a perennial top 25
recruiting program, but it isn't and I don't know why. The results on the field
should help, and usually there are some strong closes for the Spartans, but just
not consistently into the top 25. I think this is a good start and one that
could contend for the top 25 all year. I think this is just a problem that I
have because I have very high expectations for them and they have not met them
in recent years."
What the numbers say: It will be another year of disappointment
for Farrell as the per-recruit numbers suggest that Michigan State will either
finish at No. 25, or it will fall back to No. 33. The variance is a little more
than Vanderbilt, which is odd because the program has been more consistent. The
current point total is ahead of its historical pace, but the likely top end for
the class is in the 1,750 range, which could go as high as No. 23 - as it did last
season - or at No. 28. There is no safe play here other than Michigan State will not finish below No.
35 if it fills its class as it is on pace for and follows its historical
trajectory.
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